Polish Music in American Hip-Hop: 9 Unexpected Samples
The art of sampling draws on the ability to manipulate and combine small snippets from other songs to create a completely new product. In rap, it’s often hard to figure out where a sample comes from. Thankfully, Culture.pl is here to help: we’ve compiled a mixtape of famous American rap tracks with samples from incredibly influential Polish musicians. Vibe away!
A Tribe Called Quest x Michał Urbaniak
Polish jazz legend Michał Urbaniak collaborated with Krzysztof Komeda, Andrzej Trzaskowski and even Miles Davis during his expansive career, but no one would ever expect an Urbaniak and A Tribe Called Quest collab. Nevertheless, Tribe speeds up the slow-grooving Ekim by the Michał Urbaniak Group and hits the listener with that classic funk guitar chord on Steve Biko (Stir It Up) from their quintessential 1993 album Midnight Marauders.
P. Diddy & T.I. x Zdzisława Sośnicka
P. Diddy is one of the most successful producers of all time, having worked with Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and many more, so he clearly knows where to get his samples. For his 2010 album with newly formed trio Dirty Money, Diddy and T.I. hit a double-time flow on Hello Good Morning after a slowed-down intro from Polish pop legend Zdzisława Sośnicka’s Bez Ciebie Jesień from 1980.
Vince Staples x Czesław Niemen
If you’ve been following Vince Staples’s recent rise to critical acclaim in the past three years, Jump Off the Roof from his 2015 album Summertime ‘06 has to stick out as an amazing track in his discography. Little did most people know, the only sample in the track is the ominous choir and quick yell from Nie Jesteś Moja by Czesław Niemen, one of Poland’s most loved pop and rock musicians.
Charli Baltimore & Ghostface Killah x Fryderyk Chopin
Probably the most shocking sample in this collection, Charli Baltimore brings together Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah and arguably the most famous Pole of all time, classical composer Fryderyk Chopin, for her 1999 track Stand Up. One of her four debut singles off her album Cold as Ice, Chopin’s precise piano score lies underneath Baltimore’s and Ghostface’s bars throughout the track. Don’t worry, we’re all still shook.
Royce da 5'9'' & Eminem x Zbigniew Preisner
Polish film composer Zbigniew Preisner’s Requiem for My Friend was his first major work not associated with the silver screen. His beautifully-arranged choir on Veni Et Vidi took on a whole new aesthetic in 2011 when Detroit rap legends Eminem and Royce da 5’9” chopped up Preisner’s choir and made the vocals more staccato, creating a very urgent and intimidating vibe on Writer’s Block reminiscent of the shower scene from Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Beastie Boys x Michał Urbaniak
Amidst a classic Beastie Boys barrage of delay and distortion, Michał Urbaniak makes another appearance on this list in the New York City rap trio’s The Scoop from their fourth studio album Ill Communication from 1994. Urbaniak’s bass line from Atma: Tomorrow by the Michał Urbaniak Fusion is pitched up and works its way into the influential trio’s track around the 1:49 mark.
Action Bronson & Alchemist x Budka Suflera
To the English-attuned ear, the vocals at the beginning of Action Bronson’s Rare Chandeliers may sound like vocals simply being reversed (which is a production technique being used more and more by artists like Kendrick Lamar and others). It’s actually quite the opposite. Bronson’s producer The Alchemist uses the Polish vocals and the drums from the song Pieśń Niepokorna by 1970s rock band Budka Suflera for the title track of Bronson’s 2012 mixtape.
Cut Chemist x Breakout
Cut Chemist, former member of Jurassic 5, released the instrumental track Spoon in 2006 after leaving the alternative hip-hop group. But where did the bass line that dominates the track and the low voice ominously saying Spoon come from? Well it turns out Cut Chemist samples Polish blues and rock band Breakout’s song Usta Me Ogrzej and cuts the Polish word ‘Spójrz’ (which translates to ‘Look’) short to sound like the title of Chemist’s track in English.
The Game & Wiz Khalifa x Kram
LA rapper The Game’s downloadable double-disc mixtape Purp & Patron was deemed a digital success thanks to features from Pharrell, Lil Wayne, T-Pain and Wiz Khalifa in 2011. On the track Taylor Made, Game and Wiz vibe and flow over the whammy pedal trippy guitar and falsetto vocals from Polish 1970s psych band Kram’s Twoje Oddalenia to great effect.
Check out our Youtube playlist of all these tracks side-by-side with their Polish inspirations below.
Written by Matt Harmon, 6 June 2017